Undoubtedly, one of the indispensable substances of daily life is polymer. PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) is an important member of this very large family of polymers and is a modern synthetic (artificial) material. Made from two natural resources, oil and salt, PVC was one of the first plastics to develop commercially. Today, PVC is used in children’s toys, water collection and distribution pipes, bottle and bag making, various sports equipment, automobile upholstery and wiper systems, window profiles, batteries, electrical insulation materials, cables, credit cards, food containers, blood bags, serum tubes, etc. It has a very wide use in our modern life with many different applications, from surgical gloves to medical supplies such as cardiac catheters.
The following basic features lie behind the widespread use of PVC in all areas of our lives and in window profiles:
* Robustness and lightness: Compared to wood and aluminum materials used in window profile and door production, PVC material is more durable and functional. The abrasion resistance, lightness and good mechanical strength and toughness of PVC are very important technical advantages in its use in building and construction applications.
* Fire resistance: Due to the fact that PVC carries chlorine atoms in the polymer chain, it is naturally difficult to ignite, that is, its ignition temperature is high. Combustion stops immediately when the heat source is removed. This feature makes PVC suitable for windows, doors, coatings, etc. makes it particularly suitable for applications. On the other hand, wood material burns easily and carries the flame.
* Longevity: Before obtaining a product from PVC material, PVC is combined with a number of special additives. Additives determine the mechanical properties, brightness, resistance to weather conditions, color, clarity and electrical properties of the product.
PVC is resistant to weathering, chemical rot, corrosion, shock and abrasion. For this reason, it is the reason of choice for customers in products exposed to open air and where many different longevity is desired. For example, it is estimated that 75% of PVC pipes will have a lifespan of more than 40 years (with the potential to increase to 100 years). In other applications such as window profiles and cable insulation, studies have shown that more than 60% of them have a lifespan of more than 40 years. Wood is short-lived.
* Economical: PVC’s lightness, strength and design flexibility provide price advantage in many applications. PVC components used in construction offer excellent price/performance advantages. PVC does not require maintenance and paint, which is a definite need for wood. PVC is durable, well suited for long-term and maintenance-free applications. The construction and usage cost of PVC is lower than aluminum and wood.
* Environmentally friendly: In evaluations and independent studies that take into account the life cycle from production to destruction and the degree of environmental impact during this cycle, the environmental impact of PVC has been found to be positive when compared to other materials used in the production of window profiles and doors. All materials that are produced from PVC, which is a recyclable material, and that are not in use, are repeatedly reshaped and turned into products.
* Good insulator: The heat transmission coefficient of PVC material is better when compared to wood and aluminum materials used in the production of window profiles and doors (while λPVC= 0.16 W/mK, λALUMINIUM= 200 W/mK and λWOOD= 0.20 W /mK). Therefore, PVC is the best material used in the production of window profiles and doors in terms of heat saving. Besides heat, PVC is a real insulation material against sound, humidity and similar external effects.
* Versatility: The physical properties of PVC allow designers a high degree of freedom when designing. For this reason, PVC is widely used in construction, packaging, medicine, electricity, electronics, automotive sectors, in short, in all areas of our lives.
* Reusability: Construction materials such as pipes, window profiles and flooring can be reused at the end of their life. With this feature, PVC provides significant benefits in terms of environment and economy.
Comparison of PVC and Aluminum Windows in terms of Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint is a term used to describe the amount of carbon that each person causes to be emitted into the atmosphere during activities such as transportation, heating, energy consumption or during the production stages of any product he buys. In other words, it refers to the total amount of carbon gas released into the atmosphere during the production of the energy required for every product we buy or every activity we perform.
Climate change, which has been going on for millions of years under the influence of natural processes, has increased its impact and damage even more due to human-induced environmental pollution. It is a fact that every person and institution has a duty to transfer the clean and healthy environmental heritage we have received from the past to future generations.
In this context, it has become an important task to work on the calculation and reduction of carbon footprint both in order to show our sensitivity towards the environment and climate and to contribute concretely to the measures taken against environmental pollution.
The carbon footprint calculates the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by a business or an activity and commonly expresses the global warming potential. CO2 equivalent is measured in kilograms or tons.
In the study conducted for the carbon footprint comparison, the energy consumption of PVC and Aluminum window frames of the same type and size, from the creation of raw materials to the assembly of the building, and as a result, the CO2 emission amounts in kg were calculated. In this study, the carbon footprint of the PVC window frame was found to be 248.8 kg CO2, and the carbon footprint of the Aluminum window frame was 485.9 kg CO2. The carbon footprint of the aluminum window frame is 2 times higher than that of the PVC window frame.
In addition, the thermal insulation performance of the window made of PVC profiles is also high. Therefore, by saving heating energy in winter and air conditioning (air conditioning) energy in summer in the places where they are used, another issue is that the energy consumption of PVC windows for recycling after their long life is very much lower than the recycling energy consumption of aluminum windows.
It has resulted in PVC windows being preferred to windows made of other materials due to their low carbon footprint in all production stages, long life and superior insulation performance during use, and low carbon footprint in recycling.